Rival Views: Top 2025 prospects, NCAA Tournament, NBA Draft
Each week, Rivals.com’s Rob Cassidy, Travis Graf and Dan McDonald field questions from around the basketball world. This week in Rival Views, the duo fields questions about the top dog in the NBA Draft, up-and-coming freshman prospects and which sleeper team could be in for a deep run inn March.
2023 Rankings: Rivals150
2024 Rankings: Top 40
1. Rivals won’t debut the class of 2025 rankings until late this year, but which freshman prospect has impressed you most during live viewings thus far?
Cassidy: For the sake of disparity, I’ll go with Koa Peat, whom I’ve liked since I first saw as an 8th grader last summer. Peat played with the Compton Magic’s 17U team before he even started high school and has continued to progress as a freshman. Peat is as versatile as prospects come and can play 1-3 as well as defend multiple positions. Peat has elite length for his position and has already proven he can hold his own against older, elite competition.
Graf: It’s probably cliché because many already consider him to be the No. 1 prospect in the 2025 class, but Cameron Boozer, the son of former NBA player Carlos Boozer, has delivered every time I’ve watched him play. Physically, he looks like a high school upperclassman. In terms of his game, Boozer has added a little bit to his game every time I’ve watched him. The 2025 forward attacks the rim, handles the ball well for his size, and has shown some promise with his outside jumper. Boozer’s IQ and genes are what set him apart from any other 2025 I’ve watched up until this point.
McDonald: The 2025 prospect I’m most familiar with and have been the most impressed with going back to last summer is Bryson Tiller out of Pace Academy in Atlanta. At about 6-foot-8 already with a strong, athletic frame, he’s had a really good freshman year of high school and looks like a prototypical four-man at the next level. He’s skilled enough to play out on the perimeter and he’s physical enough to play inside. He has so much upside. It’s no surprise he already holds offers from Auburn, Georgia Tech, Indiana and Xavier.
2. Which team from outside the current AP top 15 has the best chance of making a deep run in March?
Cassidy: No. 23 Arkansas has won 11 of its last 12 games and is coming off of a win over Tennessee that saw Eric Musselman’s team hold the Vols to just 48 points. And it would be unwise to count the Razorbacks out of anything after last year’s Elite Eight run. Arkansas seems to be rounding into shape at the right time for another long stay in the NCAA Tournament.
Graf: The Alabama Crimson Tide have a great chance to blow up some brackets this year in March. Sure, Nate Oats’ squad has had some losses this season that left people scratching their heads, but at the same time I’m not sure another team in the country has the amount of quality wins that Alabama has racked up. They’ve defeated Gonzaga, Houston, Tennessee, Florida, LSU, Baylor, and Arkansas so far this season. Sure, when you live by the three and die by the three as Alabama does, there’s a possibility that they could be a first round exit, but if they get hot at the right time I’m not sure if anyone would bat an eye if they made a tournament run.
McDonald: I’m going with Arkansas here. It seems like they are peaking at the right time and have had some really impressive wins lately. JD Notae is the type of player that can carry a team with his scoring. Jaylin Williams is playing really good basketball lately as the anchor in the frontcourt. There are enough pieces around them to beat anybody and I trust Eric Musselman as a coach. The Razorbacks can win a lower scoring game as they did on Saturday against Tennessee, but they can also beat you in a track meet like they did against Auburn.
3. Casting roster needs aside, who would you select with the top pick in the 2022 NBA Draft?
Cassidy: I think Chet Holmgren will ultimately go No. 1, but I think Jabari Smith will be the most productive NBA player. Holmgren’s blend of size, skill and ball handling is tantalizing for GMs, and rightfully so. His upside is the highest and his skill set is the most unique. That said, Smith is the more battle-tested, NBA-ready guy in college and could have an immediate impact on the league.
Graf: First off, let me say that I think there’s strong arguments for Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, Jaden Ivey and Paolo Banchero here. There’s a lot to like about all four of these guys, but there’s also question marks about each one as well. For my money, I’d take Chet Holmgren first overall. Sure, there’s been questions about his frame for the last few years, but a lot of those same people that questioned him — including myself at times if I’m being completely transparent — thought that he would’ve fallen off a bit by now. Over time, he’s virtually proven every doubter wrong and I don’t see that changing. The NBA is definitely a man’s game, but Holmgren’s IQ and multi-dimensional impact on the game will help him balance out the areas where he may fall short.
McDonald: I’ve been back and forth between Jabari Smith and Chet Holmgren for a while now, but as of today, I’m leaning towards Jabari Smith. He’s been on a steady upward trajectory since I first saw him right after his freshman year of high school. He has the total package in what an NBA team needs from a skill and athleticism standpoint, and he would be a great face of a franchise because of his intangibles.